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Colorado Changing Rules For Lawyers Looking To Help


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Colorado Committee Considers Changing Rules for Lawyers Looking to Help Marijuana Businesses


Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana last year, but its illegal federal status is causing some headaches for certain professionals, including lawyers.  Attorneys in Colorado could have peace of mind soon, now that a committee is working to change the way lawyers can interact with marijuana-related businesses.


Currently in Colorado, attorneys would be breaking one of the state’s rules of professional conduct by helping marijuana businesses because they would be helping clients participate in illegal activities– at least on the federal level.


According to an opinion released earlier this year by a Colorado Bar Association ethics panel,”Unless and until there is a change in applicable federal law or in the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer cannot advise a client regarding the full panoply of conduct permitted by the marijuana amendments.”


Despite the rule, no lawyers have been punished for helping medical or recreational marijuana businesses, according to the Colorado Bar Association.


A state committee of lawyers and judges is now recommending that the Colorado Supreme Court change the rule.  The new rule would provide an exemption for lawyers who help marijuana businesses do things that are deemed legal under state law, regardless of whether they conflict with federal law.


While some attorneys want the protections to provide legal advice to all clients in need, others feel the rule change is unnecessary or inappropriate.  James Coyle, head of Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel stated, “I don’t think there is a need for the new rule.”


Another proposed rule would allow attorneys in Colorado to use recreational marijuana without breaking a conduct rule against using illegal substances.


The Supreme Court is accepting written comments on the proposed rule changes until February 25th.  A public hearing on the proposed rules will be held on March 6th.



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